Chilling Chat Episode 156 Christine Verstraete

Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a little “scare” in her writing. She follows the murder trial and offers a twist on the infamous 1892 Borden murders in her book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. She also looks at the murders from the viewpoint of Lizzie’s doctorC.A. Verstraete in her latest, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen. Other books include a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, and books on dollhouse collecting and crafting. Christine’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies including: Descent Into Darkness, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Mystery Weekly, and Timeshares, Steampunk’d, and Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance, DAW Books. She is an award-winning journalist published in daily to weekly newspapers, and in various magazines. Her stories have received awards from local and national newspaper associations, and the Dog Writer’s Association of America.

Christine is a smart and accomplished lady. We discussed historical horror, her writing style, and Lizzie Borden.

 

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Christine. Thank you for chatting with me today.

CV: My pleasure and thanks for taking the time to talk.

NTK: You have a background in journalism. How has this influenced your writing?

CV: It makes me more detail-oriented, I think. I’m used to looking things up and doing research.

NTK: Did this help you when writing Lizzie Borden: Zombie Hunter?

CV: I did do a lot of reading and finding research of the period. The real autopsy reports and crime scene photos actually inspired the book idea.

NTK: Wow! The autopsy photos inspired the plot?Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by [Verstraete, C.A.]

CV: If you read the autopsy reports detailing the injuries and look at the photos, it’s plausible (in the horror sense) to think why else were they hit in the head? It was an awful, brutal crime, so I guess this gives a better reason than the standard hate/greed/family dysfunction/dissatisfaction.

NTK: What made you portray Lizzie as a hero?

CV: Using that [zombie] premise, I thought Lizzie had to have a good reason to kill, other than being a monster herself. What if she was trying to protect her town and her sister from this unbelievable evil?

NTK: Were you influenced by some of the historical horror novels like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter?

CV: I hadn’t read ALVH until later, but loved it! I really enjoyed the movie.

NTK: You have an interesting take on the case and an interesting “What if?” Stephen King has spoken of how he uses “What if?” when thinking of an idea. Is that how you write? Do you look at a situation and say, “What if this happened?”

CV: I wish I was as prolific-thinking as him! My ideas seem to come out of nowhere, then I stew on them a bit and see what they develop into. I have to get excited about the idea to stick with it.

I guess I’m so structured in news-writing that fiction is looser—in the idea stage, anyway.

NTK: Your style is very crisp and direct. What writers have influenced you?

CV: It’s probably the news background. I know I don’t like reading or writing, long, meandering sentences. I loved reading Royko in The Chicago Tribune. Grew up on King who, of course, can be rather wordy at times. (Laughs) I went through different periods of loving different authors, classic and contemporary—Dean Koontz, Heinlein, loved Saul Bellow too.

NTK: I have to ask. Who do you prefer? King or Koontz?

CV: Probably King, as I’ve probably read more from him. I loved that he did a sequel to The Shining (and it did well.) The recent It movie was fun too.

NTK: Did King get you into horror?

CV: Well, I grew up on Creature Features on TV, the Crypt Keeper, Night Gallery, and reading King. (Laughs) Salem’s Lot is a favorite I still like to reread now and then. I just picked up a copy of Carrie to read again after many, many years.

NTK: Are these your favorite horror novels? What are your favorite Horror TV shows and movies?

CV: The TVs shows, I just mentioned are favorites.

NTK: Do you watch The Walking Dead?

CV: Yes—when I can. It’s addicting! [As to books] I also really liked reading I Am Legend and plan on reading Matheson’s other books. It’s writing that makes you savor the sentences. I love old creepy movies, even the corny ones—and, anything with Vincent Price!

NTK: Vincent Price starred in many historical pieces. Is that what got you interested in that type of horror?

CV: Most likely. He had that mesmerizing voice. I also liked Edgar Allan Poe. I still remember seeing The Tell-Tale Heart at the theater. One scary movie!

The older movies really got me hooked, classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, and Bride of Frankenstein. And, The Wolfman of course.

I guess after all that; it made sense that I finally turned to writing creepy stuff!

NTK: What’s your favorite Edgar Allan Poe story or poem?

CV: The Tell-Tale Heart. I recently re-read The Black Cat, also very eerie and still packs a punch. Maybe, that’s why I like putting a little twist in stories, like I did in Lizzie Borden: Zombie Hunter and, the sequel, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall.Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall by [Verstraete, C.A.]

NTK: You write creepy things. Do you also create creepy things? You make miniatures. Have you ever built a haunted dollhouse?

CV: (Laughs) Yes, I’m that twisted. I do enjoy creating Halloween miniatures. I had fun doing my first Halloween dollhouse and thinking how creepy I could get. Far as I know, nothing has moved of its own accord in there…yet. I am planning another haunted house but less gory this time.

NTK: Cool! You spoke of Lizzie Borden and the sequel. Do you have other work concerning Lizzie and her time period?

CV: There’s also a companion novella, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, told from the viewpoint of Lizzie’s doctor and neighbor. He was the first official on the murder scene, and I wondered how could that, and the city’s bloody past, have affected him? It’s kind of a ghostly love story as well. I wanted to try something different and had fun writing it.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? Do you have plans for new work?

CV: Oh, the mind never rests, you know. (Laughs) I have a longer short story that I may re-edit and put out again. I was toying with some ideas for book 3 for Lizzie. I love writing about the characters.

The first book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, follows the trial and real-life events with the addition of zombies, of course. I had to follow more fictional events in the sequel to continue the story, but I liked coming up with a new weird angle to the story.

A big thrill was [when] the newspaper in Lizzie’s hometown did a story on the book when it first came out. That was fun.

NTK: Do you think the Lizzie in your universe is cursed?

CV: She’s fighting evil and learning that her father may have been part of that evil…you can’t get more cursed than that. That could be why she feels obligated to do what she can, even when everyone blames her for the horrors. Much like in real life, she was acquitted but still treated as a pariah and considered guilty.

NTK: As you know, Season 13 of HorrorAddicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

CV: I do love the old gypsy curse in the classic Wolfman movie…Larry Talbot’s a monster, but you can’t help but feel his pain and feel sorry for him until the curse is broken…

NTK: That’s a terrific curse. Thank you, Christine. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you.

CV: I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. Thank you.

Addicts, you can follow Christine on Twitter at @caverstraete

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Terror Trax: Stagefright

Stagefright is the first band I’ve ever heard of to blend musical genres such as Ska / reggae with Goth and hip-hop with darkwave. How did this come about? Is it something that evolved over time or was combining these different genres an idea that you pursued?

We started out with the concept of a crossover gothic band that incorporated African American styles such as R&B and hip-hop with gothic and darkwave. However, as we evolved, it quickly shifted towards reggae and ska because of the line-up. Don Geron and Pruda Bass, our long-time drummer and bass player, were both in popular local ska bands in the 80s as well as gospel and R&B bands. Our rhythm guitarist at the time, Don Schrieber, came from a rock band, and my brother Scott Saulson and our mother Carolyn Saulson and I were all from a punk/goth background. I’d been in a punk band called Poetic Justice in Hawaii in the 80s. I think Don Schrieber was the only white person in the band at that time – my brother and I are biracial, but we’re black identified. Everyone else in the band was black.

How has your unconventional blending of styles been received?

We have been warmly received on the local fair and festival circuit, playing in a lot of shows like Soupstock, National Homeless Day at Dome Village, Juneteenth, The California Blues Festival, and other community and Afrocentric circles. We had the same sort of following as bands like Spearhead then, and probably appealed to punk and ska fans more than the Goth community; however, we’re very active on the Goth scene and have played with a lot of Goth bands, particularly Protea, Galaxxy Chamber, and Apocalypse Theater.

What is Stagefright’s connection to the horror community?

I (Sumiko) am a horror writer, and a horror blogger, best known for my horror blog series on black women who write horror. I put together 60 Black Women in Horror, and then 100+ Black Women in Horror, reference guides based upon the blogs. They contain biographies of and interviews with black women in horror. And HorrorAddicts blogger David Watson wrote an article for it on LA Banks and Octavia Butler. We also have had a public access television program called Stagefright on and off since 1993. It often showcases horror films and horror directors. We used to put on the San Francisco Black Independent Film Festival, also known as the Iconoclast Black Film Festival. We received a lot of great independent Afrocentric horror works which we aired in theaters like ATA and the Koret as well as on public access.

How important, if at all, is horror, or, dark material –books, music, film, etc- to the creation of music within Stagefright?

Given that horror music is intrinsically connected with the gothic aesthetic and gothic music. I would say very important. Even when I was in a punk band horror was important, and I had songs about The Evil Dead and we tended towards horrorcore and horrorbilly like the Cramps. My brother, my mom, and I were all from the old school Death Rock eighties foundation for Goth, and gravitated towards darkwave when that became a thing. My brother loves Skinny Puppy. My mom loves The Cure. I love Switchblade Symphony. All of those bands have songs about horror. Heck, even Kate Bush writes about horror. I think Kate Bush was the first alternative act I fell in love with. My mom was listening to her when I was 9.

What kind of role do you see dark music playing within our society?

People have to process their anger, fear, grief and other raw emotions in some way. Dark music helps people to get in touch with, process, and get on the other side of things that they might otherwise unhealthily repress. The blues and country music also help people deal with grief. Repressed and at-risk populations often have a deep affinity for music that relays their struggle. Gothic and darkwave music resonates a lot with people who have mental health struggles, letting us know that we aren’t alone and that other people have and do experience depression, grief, and anxiety and that it is okay to feel and face these things. Otherwise, people get very apathetic and numb and quash it all down. I think sometimes we have to face those emotions head on.

Being a multi-cultural group, have you had to deal with any prejudice within the scene?

Somewhat, as we can’t really get airplay in Goth clubs or and are not perceived as gothic by people who don’t see interviewing African Diaspora and African American influences into gothic music as valid. We have gotten a lot of support from general alternative rock stations like KUSF used to play us, for example. Goths let us play in Goth clubs but they never seem to want to actually play our music, because it is too ethnic. My rants and railing against the Eurocentric white skin and pallor obsession within the gothic community are well known. Back in the 80s it wasn’t like that but, then something people call “traditional” Goth emerged later on, which involves wearing white clown make-up. Most African Americans have a negative association with skin bleaching.

Sumiko, as a musician, author, and visual artist, could you please tell us how these three expressions play off, influence, and support one another.

I’ve become quite popular lately as a cartoonist, and ironically, my multiethnic, kinky, poly, queer anthropomorphic mouse cartoon Mauskaveli seems to be getting a lot of airplay on the Goth scene and very little anti-black or anti-multicultural flashback. I think that’s because it is kink centered, and has a lot of queer characters. Multiculturalism is a lot more evident in kinky, queer corners of the Goth scene, and honestly, queer gay folks aren’t terrified of being spotted wearing some color that isn’t black at all. My band often plays at book readings. I think my friend, Serena Toxicat, one of my best friends and oldest friends, best epitomizes this. She’s in Protea now, but she used to be in Apocalypse Theater. We have been supporting each other as artists, authors, and musicians for 25 years now. We both turned 50 this year. After a while, you start to make your friendships circle around your creative interests and vice versa.

Sumiko, do you ever incorporate your written works into a Stagefright performance?

I have been reading my books at Stagefright performances, and recently I did a show with Serena called Kat and Maus. We had two different fashion shows. The first one, my models wore Mauskaveli mouse themed fashions I created, and danced, modeled, and posed to Protea’s Catwave music. At the second one, her cat-themed clothing was worn by her models and she played Stagefright. It was this sort of perfect cultural exchange. Her clothing was modeled by a very, very queer but predominately white crowd, while my clothing was modeled by a multiethnic, body-positive crowd that was not as obviously queer as hers. She did something for the first day of Pride that embraced Trans* identity, it was great! But at the end, she talked about my involvement in the black community. I think us working together is more interesting, frankly.

What is the Stagefright origin story? Is there any particular inspiration behind the band?

The band name actually came from a band I was in when I was in Kerista Commune. It was a punk band, can’t remember if we actually named it Stagefright or if that was my name suggestion but Dune and Revery were the other band members and we only had one song, Ned Was A Nipple Head.  My mom loved that name, so when we started our band she adopted it. She had really bad Stagefright and strongly identified with Jim Morrison, who was so introverted he sang with his back facing the audience at early Doors performances. She did that at first as well.

Stagefright has performed in settings as varied as L.A.’s renowned Whisky A Go-Go, to street fairs, to bookstores. Do you have a preferred type of venue? Is there anywhere you wouldn’t play?

We’re kind of great at street fairs, and sometimes our political content gets a strong crowd reaction. One time we were doing a show at the African American Art and Culture Complex for a Unity in the Community event that had a very large African immigrant population in the audience. A man became offended and started to get angry, even jumped on the stage and grabbed the microphone because he thought our songs were too feminist and a challenge to him. Specifically, we were covering Feels Blind by Bikini Kill. So we impromptu talked back to him. I can rap, and my mom can jazz improvise so we both ripped him in two different very African music styles. Then we started covering Cursed Female by Porno for Pyros. When we were done, every single woman in the audience stood up and applauded, while most of the men were sitting in the audience with their hands folded, glowering and pouting. To me, that’s what we are all about – empowerment for black women.  My mom and I are the lead singers. We usually perform duets. Sometimes, Scott sings. But this is us! Once my brother got mad at me and mom and called us The Violent Femmes.  So yeah, that’s us.

What makes for the ideal Stagefright show?

Some sort of political cause we believe in, like uplifting the African diaspora, elevating black women, narrowing the generation gap, helping prisoners, showing a thug some love, assisting those with disabilities, and raising money for the homeless and marginally housed. We are essentially a very political act.

What are some fun activities that one can do while listening to Stagefright?

Playing Dragon Age 2. Slam dancing, aerobics, twerking, and the gothic spiderweb removing wavy hand dance, political protest rallies, and long road trips on I-5.

Poison cupcakes or very, very sharp knives?

Very, very sharp knives…

If you were booked to play the apocalypse, what would be some highlights of your set?

A large sheet spread in the background with a projector airing artsy horror films, Taaka Vodka, Faygo and Four Loco Jell-O Shots, Chucky, Bride of Chucky, and Seed of Chucky cosplays, and Warhol Starlet Ivy Nicholson.

If I’m going to San Francisco and I don’t want to wear a flower in my hair, what could I do instead?

Write bad poetry in an independently owned and operated coffee house.

Morbid Meals – Barren Baker’s Cornbread Honeycomb Muffins

EXAMINATION

Once upon a time it was hard to be a baker. Bread being so vital to the common diet, for rich and poor alike, laws were passed to make sure that bakers did not cheat their customers with light loaves or unhealthy fillers. To make sure that their customers were happy, often times it was better to make sure that an order was filled that was over weight rather than under. Thus, many bakers started giving away an extra cookie or muffin with an order of a dozen. Thus, a baker’s dozen is 13. Normally one might consider 13 to be unlucky, but now it has probably spared a lot of bakers from harsh penalties like having their hands chopped off.

Did you know, however, that if you don’t use a muffin tin, which often have either 6 or 12 cups, that you can bake better muffins in 13 paper-lined foil cups? It is true! Placing the cups on a baking sheet in a tight 4 x 5 x 4 pattern bakes the muffins more evenly and nets us exactly 13 muffins. I call these honeycomb muffins because they resemble the hex-pattern of honeycomb.

Note also as they cook, these muffins will push even closer together and the resulting muffins will take on a more hexagonal shape rather than round. If you want perfectly round muffins, you might need to double-up the cups, or if you have mason jar rings, you can set the cups in the rings to help them retain their shape.

If you find, however, that you’ve actually been cursed like the baker from Into The Woods, here’s a recipe that might do the trick to get on a witch’s good side.

ANALYSIS

Yield: 13 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 160g cornmeal (yellow as, well, corn)
  • 1 cup / 120g all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup / 120g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp / 10g baking powder
  • 1 tsp / 7g salt
  • 1 cup whole milk (from a cow as white as milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey (as pure as gold)
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz) butter, melted

Apparatus

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Spoon and whisk
  • Foil and paper muffin cups
  • Baking sheet

Procedure

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients together and incorporate well.
  3. In the other bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the wet to the dry and then stir to mix well into a thick batter.
  5. Place foil muffin cups with paper cups inside them on a baking sheet in a tight 4 x 5 x 4 pattern.
  6. Divide the batter into the 13 cups and bake for about 15 to 17  minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

DISSECTION

If you want to make a gluten-free version, feel free to use your preferred GF flour mix, but be sure to measure by weight (120g). Note for example the difference between the flour and sugar. They both weigh the same, yet it only takes ½ cup of sugar to reach 120g vs. a full cup of AP flour to weigh the same.

These are delightfully sweet without being too sweet. If you would prefer even sweeter, I recommend adding stevia. Adding more sugar or honey will change the consistency of the batter. Stevia powder however enhances the sugar already in the recipe but very little goes a long way.

POST-MORTEM

Serve these with a fresh batch of magic kidney beans (red as blood) and rice.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Twisted Numbered Films!

Twisted Numbered Films!

By Kristin Battestella

Even if it isn’t that dreaded 666, you know a horror movie with a number in the title will carry a certain amount of bizarre, twisted, and freaky.

Dementia 13Roger Corman produced and eventually interfered with this 1963 directorial debut of Francis Ford Coppola (I will hit you if you need a film reference for Francis Ford Coppola!) Clearly made on the cheap with quick, iffy dialogue, most of the picture is too dark and tough to see. The title doesn’t have much to do with anything, either, but the opening crime, water motifs, and axe murders are pretty entertaining. It’s a weird mix of both men- Coppola’s brooding atmosphere and complexity against Corman’s hint of over the top blood. Fans of both will indeed be curious to see this special blend of contemporary crime and creepy Irish castle. Eerie music and suspenseful, deceptive builds carry the weird family, death, and grief thanks to Coppola’s stylized interpretation. However, Corman’s insisted upon shocks aren’t bad, either. It’s almost as if two different films are happening- a ghost story and a slasher mystery. It makes the vision muddled at times, but it’s all quite creepy and entertaining nonetheless. Yes, this will be too slow or poorly done for some modern audiences, but a few good ghostly scares and deaths make this one wonderfully worthwhile for fans of the boys.

Devil Times Five – Teen idol Leif Garrett and his sister Dawn Lyn make for some creepy youngins in this 1974 picture also known as Peopletoys – and a dozen other titles for good measure. Eerie seventies lullaby notes ironically accent the snowy vacation spot, yuppie couples, and old fogies as perilous, icy, winding roads lead to vehicular disasters. Nuns and kids should be a sign of safety, however, real snow filming, old fashioned cars, and past technological isolation up the apprehensive mood. Although the teen voiceovers and their jive lingo are dated and the characters are initially stock stereotypes, the acting both from the adults and the children isn’t bad. Slow motion and still zooms are unnecessary now, granted, but the black and white scenes showcase the shocking child violence, blunt objects, and group attacks – an extra oomph on how these miniature sociopaths get hungry and sleepy after a good bludgeoning. A belittling sex proposition of a slow adult is awkward, but cat fights, lingerie, and boobs about the bedroom scenes create a saucy upscale before our unaware adults come to realize they can’t handle these escaped, killer charges – who have a wicked motivation and intellect far beyond their years. Guns go missing, knives disappear, wood needs to be chopped, and it’s fun to see who or what is going to set off another crafty murder. Sure, this isn’t scary by today’s standards. However, the bathtub terrors and snow siege build well over the 88 minute time for some bemusing – if twisted – entertainment.

 

 

You Make the Call, Addicts!

Session 9 – Director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) wonderfully executes this taut psychological thriller and smartly tells his 2001 tale in the gloriously eerie Danvers State Hospital for premium naturally spooky effects. Both Peter Mullan (Red Riding) and David Caruso (CSI: Miami) are on form, keeping the viewer intelligently guessing as to all the mystery and paranoia right up to the end. Unfortunately, everything falls apart for the finale. There are so many suspenseful and horrific possibilities, and any one of them was possible here. Yet none actually happens in this disappointing end.For all the smarts and interesting strides made beforehand, Anderson and co-writer Stephen Gevedon (Oz) leave you scratching your head at the unexplained conclusion. Claiming the deleted scenes on the DVD resolve everything doesn’t help, either.

Room 6 – Frightful Hospital nightmares of masked surgeons and aware as the scalpel cuts but immobilized patients open this 2006 in limbo experience starring schoolteacher Christine Taylor (Hey, Dude! people, Hey, Dude!), creepy kid Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In), and the mysterious Jerry O’Connell (Sliders). Our couple has moved in together but rushed proposals and reluctant answers escalate to car accidents with realistic shocks, injuries, and intensity. Retro taxis, old fashioned nurses uniforms, and a sickly green surreal add to the unfamiliar hospital fears and confusion aftermath. Overhead or looking up from the operating table camera angles increase the bizarre afoot – lots of blood needs to be drawn and disappearing patients aren’t sure how they got there or why they are being treated. Resorting to pay phones or phone booths and avoiding suspicious bums increase the uneasy unknown as the accident survivors look for missing victims. Everyone seems to know their names and histories while freaky voice messages and blood splatter create disturbia. Unfortunately, from boo visions, dream splices, and false wake ups to rapid fire images, phantom bloody faces, and cryptic child warnings – a lot of unnecessary clutters the already weird, which world is real, obvious purgatory tone. Less is more, even if it means ditching the naughty naked nurses and interesting levitating demon church battles that should have happened much sooner if they were critical to the plot. A lack of modern technology leaves the research to an old lady in a dusty archive telling stories of fiery devil worship that should have been seen and not told in cliché explanations complete with background thunder and lightning. The ensemble struggles as the contrived connections, suspect characters, and required twists get silly, and the disjointed nature of the onscreen reality does not excuse the disjointedness in the film. While clearly about the titular past reconciliations, the finale strays with zombies, ridiculous flickering lights, and a nonsensical, realm mixing maze akin to a hospital themed house haunt. There are some quality, entertaining moments here, and this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be – but the big reset button mood is no secret and this never cashes in on any of the potential intrigue.

4gettable!

Apartment 1303Two and a half minutes of loud, padding opening credits don’t help this muddled 2013 remake starring estranged singer Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business), miscast snarky daughter Mischa Barton (The O.C.) and foolish youngest Julianne Michelle (looking like a sickly thin fourteen year old) who signs a cheap lease on the titular flat complete with a view, creepy kids, a pervy super, and ghostly residue. The mother/daughter arguing plot feels like a dramatic movie separate from the horror, but De Mornay’s husky singing is more interesting than the cliché girl alone taking selfies and talking to herself over ironing board jump scares. It’s tough to care about this drinking, quivering kid. What did she expect? Rattling doors, phantom shadows, spooky sounds, foggy attacks, and scary faces tapping at the window do better than the ugly crying shouts, cheating boyfriend, the black best friend in only one scene, divorced dad cop subplots, and one uncomfortable sex scene. The ghost girl looks like a man, the bathroom scenes are laughable – those fake bubbles in Mischa’s tub! – and the screaming ghost roars are useless. The spectre and its special effects are barely there but this ghost can physically do a lot – like dragging the stick chick all across the floor. An unexpected turn halfway through makes viewers wonder why one plot wasn’t just told in its entirety as a short opening prologue before the family pieces. However, the sisters really are interchangeable, and I would rather have seen their broken down mom moving into the haunt to do some comeback songwriting and solve the scares. Phantom phone calls, bizarre dreams, investigation of past deaths, even calling the police for the deadly facts come too late, and the paranormal really happens most in last ten minutes with no resolution and four more minutes of credits. Eighty-five minutes my foot! There’s no time to waste, yet this does everything but focus on the horror – and its ten years behind on the blonde moves to a creepy place with a kid trend. While serviceable for those who can laugh at this kind of babe alone boo fest, I suspect the J-horror original is better.

Nightmare Fuel: Black Aggie

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

This week I take you on a tour of a cemetery in Baltimore, MD in search of a particular statue known as Black Aggie. It is a statue with a bit of history to it, and a legend that makes it Nightmare Fuel.

Our story begins with the death of a woman named Marian Adams. She was married to Henry Adams, the grandson of President John Quincy Adams, until her death by suicide in 1885. Distraught by the loss of his love, he traveled to Japan in June 1886 in search of comfort. Upon his return home, he sought out famed American sculptor, Augustus St. Gaudens, and commissioned a statue from him to replace his late wife’s headstone. It took four years, and when finally finished was regarded as “the most powerful and expressive pieces in the history of American art.” While the piece itself was never officially named, it is commonly referred to as the Adams Memorial, although its nickname is Grief.

Strangeness surrounded the original statue. Henry Adams never spoke publicly about it or his wife’s death, even refusing to acknowledge the artwork’s nickname. His family heritage intensified the public’s curiosity, but it took hiding the statue behind walls of trees and shrubbery to capture the people’s fascination. It became a popular site to find, even though the piece was described as unnerving to see. Perhaps it was the public’s enthusiasm for it that inspired another artist, Eduard L. A. Pausch, to produce a copy, later dubbed Black Aggie.

The statue was a near identical copy of Grief, although differing in some details. Instead of being made of pink granite, Aggie was grey. It was also missing the bench and the original stonework of the original. Also, inscribed at the base of the statue was the name Agnus, the family name of the replica’s owner at the time, General Felix Agnus.

General Agnus was a war hero during the Civil War, who retired from the military to take over his father-in-law’s position as publisher of the Baltimore American newspaper until his death in 1925. The legend of Black Aggie began with the General’s body being buried at the statue’s feet.

A statue by day, stories began to spread of the stone woman moving on its own and dead spirits gathering around her on some nights. If your eyes met hers, you risked blindness. Pregnant women who passed through Aggie’s shadow faced possible miscarriages. While it’s easy to attribute these stories to fear and superstition, it’s the ones that followed that frightened people even more.

A local college fraternity took to including Black Aggie in their initiation rites, with the pledges being made to spend the night on the statue’s lap. One anecdotal case mentions that the stone woman came to life and squeezed the life out of the young man. Another instance reported by a night watchman was of a boy found frightened to death at Aggie’s feet. Other reports are of red glowing eyes at night and people dying after disrespecting the statue.

Due to the popularity of the statue and the damage caused by the people coming to see it, the decision was made to donate it. After several years where its whereabouts were unknown, the statue is now on display in the rear courtyard of the Dolly Madison house in Washington, D.C. After its removal areas of grass that refused to grow while it lay in Black Aggie’s shadow have begun filling in once again.

Is there something to this tale, or is it just an urban legend? Who can say? Perhaps these stories are as anecdotal as they sound, but what if there may be some factual evidence to back it up? Regardless, I hope this provides some fuel for your nightmares.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

LIVE Second Life event TODAY! – Crescendo of Darkness Release Party

Join HorrorAddicts.net on Second Life
for our Virtual Book Release Party
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Saturday, June 30th, 2pm SLT (PST)
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Come celebrate with us!

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Crescendo of Darkness
Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction.

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.

With stories by: Calvin Demmer, Jeremiah Donaldson, Cara Fox, R.A. Goli, Sarah Gribble,
Kahramanah, Naching T. Kassa, Benjamin Langley, Jeremy Megargee, A. Craig Newman,
Sam Morgan Phillips, Emerian Rich, H.E. Roulo, Daphne Strasert

Available now!